OPINION: by Senator Cory BernardiNews Weekly
Integration, the missing ingredient of immigration
, September 5, 2009
The recent call for a review of Australia's migration intake has, in my opinion, a great deal of merit. In fact, I am pleasantly surprised that the usual assortment of jibes attacking those who advocate a more measured migration program hasn't yet taken place.
Perhaps that's because this time the advocacy comes from a leftist Labor politician. I have no doubt that had a conservative made such a call the cries of "xenophobia" and "dog-whistle politics" would have been deafening.
I have benefited from migration more than most Australians. My father came here from Italy in 1958 and my wife is an Irish migrant. I have an extended family comprising Australians who have originated from Malaysia, Denmark, Austria, Ireland, England and Italy.
They all add to the richness of my life and that of our nation, which is why I don't want any of you to construe what I am writing here as being anti-immigration. Nothing could be further from the truth.
But there is something clearly wrong with the migration system in Australia today, and it is about time we had a decent conversation about it. Unfortunately, it is a conversation that many conservatives shy away from due to the vile and outrageous pot-shots it often provokes.
I recall receiving a most abusive e-mail from an ABC journalist over a previous comment of mine in which I dared to raise the subject of benefits given to those entering our territory illegally and claiming asylum.
However, the immigration problems we need to deal with are not limited to illegals.
Our authorised migration processes are clearly not working effectively either. The past few years have seen what can only be described as an explosion in race-oriented violence, ranging from riots in Cronulla and terrorist plots to gang stabbings and gang rape. The question is: why?
Shooting from the hip, my view is that it comes down to lack of assimilation. Unfortunately, too many new Australians put their faith, their clan or their longstanding hatreds ahead of the values of their adopted country. They seek to use our freedoms, our systems and our tolerance as a means of undermining our values and indulging in behaviour that is anathema to most Australians.
The suggestion that our migrant intake should be reduced to ensure sufficient vetting of applicants and their background is a step in the right direction. But I believe there is a bigger problem.
Evidence suggests that the many so-called "race" problems are not caused by the original immigrants but by their radicalised children. Somehow, the progeny of those who have been offered a better life in Australia are keener at continuing ancient rivalries or religious hatreds than their forebears.
Such beliefs can only be cultivated by the same extremist poison that is far too prevalent in the United Kingdom, Europe and parts of Africa and South East Asia.
The question many ask, but too many of us avoid answering, is: where does most of this indoctrination of hate begin? For some it is in the home, but evidence suggests that for many it begins in the mosque.
Yet to say so is to subject oneself to claims of intolerance and bigotry. Frankly, it is time for the excuses to stop.
For how long can we be expected to accept sermons of hate explained as being incorrectly translated? Surely, it is right to ask how the so-called "religion of peace" can be so regularly used, by the very people it proclaims as scholars of its holy book, as an excuse for murder and destruction.
Recently, the activities and arrest of an alleged Islamic terrorist were blamed by one of his relations on the Australian welfare system. Let me tell you: if this was a genuine reason for the dismantling of the welfare state, then I'd probably join the campaign.
The problem, though, is that this claim, like many other rationalisations, is nonsense. It is simply an excuse to seek to exonerate the vile alleged activities of a religious extremist.
In Australia we are yet to see the openly public protests advocating death to infidels or other displays of bilious hatred that have occurred elsewhere. The day we do and are expected to accept it as freedom of speech is the day our nation ceases to become the egalitarian one previous generations have fought so hard to defend.
You may ask, as I do, how we can prevent the expansion of racial and religious hatred from infecting Australian society. Unfortunately, I don't have the answer.Intolerance and hatred
However, it is clear to me that unless we are prepared to stop making excuses for those who support the doctrine of intolerance and hatred, and until we are prepared to talk openly about the problems associated with a clearly flawed immigration policy, we will be ignoring a battle that we must win.
Winning that battle requires great courage from our politicians, honesty from members of the fourth estate, and greater advocacy by members of the public. We must now be willing to engage in the same debate that too many nations have ignored to their own regret.
Unless we are prepared to learn from the experience of others, the difficulties we are experiencing today may just be the genesis of a problem that could change our country forever.Cory Bernardi is a Liberal senator for South Australia.